Tag Archives: Nik Antropov

Maple Leafs, Raptors Era Of Hope, Blue Jays? Not So Much

Once again the original ideas are clearly sparse these days. As one loyal reader wrote me an email “is it me or is Damien on auto-pilot”. In any event, Dave Perkins took Jeff Blair’s Toronto The Bad story and raised it with a feel good spin:

“The Maple Leafs have hit the all-star break losing 11 of 14 games, the Raptors have dived straight into the tank and, with pitchers and catchers on the horizon, the Blue Jays seem to have already surrendered their season, publicly managing expectations downward the way the Maple Leafs did so successfully last fall.”

9 am, who is ready for a drink?

“So, what to do? Not much except wait it all out and believe that this time, pain will bring gain. In the case of the Leafs, most fans expected this kind of situation and many wished for it; blowing it up is the best way to start over again.Raptor people would feel differently. This team began the season with reasonable expectations, but fell apart terribly. A flurry now and a finish from seven through 11 in the conference would put them into that wheel-spinning ground the Leafs inhabited for so many years; if you can’t be good, be really bad and start building again with a nice draft pick.”

No, I swear I didn’t write the piece. Perkins is right on though….

“The good news for the Raps is that it’s a shorter road back in the NBA and Bryan Colangelo still is a smart guy, even though he’s now on an extended hitless steak. If he can trade Jermaine O’Neal for a large expiring contract, they would have money to spend in the off-season. A 2009-10 team with Chris Bosh, a healthy Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani, a lottery pick and a decent free agent, along with the usual spare parts, isn’t so bad. Things can change quickly in the NBA – in either direction.The Leafs, in the big picture, are actually having what sensible people would call a successful season. They’re losing with effort, most nights at least playing decent games while dropping points. As new GM Brian Burke undertakes what a friend calls “a de-Communization” of his team, they are inching toward the bottom and the subsequent potential draft bonanza.”

Ding ding ding ding…give the man a prize. As I have said before, this common sense thing, it’s really not that hard. this isn’t rocket science. “They are losing with effort, most nights at least playing decent games while dropping points” yes, I did just repost that. That is what we want them to do. Raise your hand which team you prefer, the Muskoka five effortless group of last year, or this years group???? This is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered.

“The Islanders are in control of the John Tavares Sweepstakes, but the Leafs are only three points out of 29th place and who knows how the ping-pong balls will bounce? If both Tampa Bay and Ottawa make little runs, the Leafs will benefit. They potentially have chips to play with at the trade deadline. If either or both of Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky get rolling, they could depart for a taste of future. Jason Blake, who has been playing with interest lately, has three more years on his contract, but is looking as if he could help somebody else. He doesn’t have a no-trade contract.”

The Obama factor…The most dangerous word in the English language is HOPE…Perkins is using it now. We don’t mind the losing (not loosing) if there is HOPE! “A Taste of the future” EXACTLY!!!

“There are things Burke can do with an eye two or three years down the road, which is, realistically, when they might become competitive. Resurrection begins with good results in the draft, commencing in the lottery, which is why being bad – and .363 is as bad as it gets – doesn’t necessarily need to be the end of the world.”

Stop telling us how bad we are. It isn’t becoming and frankly it pisses us off. It’s interesting that Perkins rightfully leaves the Jays out of the discussion. Maybe he knows what we (with the exception of Eye) believe, that the right guy isn’t at that table. Hope, all we need is a tiny morsel of hope. If the right people are around the draft table there is hope. Guarantees? Nope. No such thing (death, taxes and self serving Berger Blogs excepted). Being so bad should have it’s payoff…Let’s see if the right guys are at the table.


Kaberle, Modano, Hull, Avery, Rentals, Caps & Raps… Oh My

I love this quote from Bruce Arthur. Can’t you just picture the scene in the Leafs locker-room, all the regular’s are gathered around Kaberle’s locker, they ask him about his NTC:

“”We haven’t spoke about anything, and obviously my status stays the same,” Kaberle said with an air of finality. “We can talk about tonight’s game if you guys want to.”

After a pause, one sharp reporter said, “Not really.”

That is right out of a SNL skit… whom do you think the “sharp reporter” 10:1 Howie 5:1 Jonas

Oh to be on the Dallas Stars next flight with Modano and Brett Hull… Let’s see, sitting in 11 a is Mike Modano, here is your boarding pass and in 11 C is Brett Hull, here you go…

“”I think we would have analyzed (the signing) a little bit more over the summer before you go into the free-agent market. Do a little more homework and detailed analysis (and get the opinions) of players who have played with him, or how guys feel about it,” said Wednesday the 19-year veteran.
“It could have been avoided, I think, but I think (co-GM) Brett (Hull) felt having him as a teammate (while with the Detroit Red Wings), he saw something in him. “Talent-wise, he’s a very skilled kid. But I think character-wise and his personality didn’t blend with the criteria that we’ve always had as Dallas Stars. Since Bob Gainey was here, we implemented a kind of personality and character-figure in Tom Hicks. That’s kind of where it went off and tail-spinned, and got corrected.”

One word…. Ouch…Gotta love when a guy like Modano suggests that maybe, just maybe it would be a good idea to do some , ummmm, what’s the word for it, oh yeah HOMEWORK before signing a player…. The fact that he references Bob Gainey is even more classic.

Good job of accumulating a list of rental players from Kevin Allen in his USA Today hockey blog:
Jay Bouwmeester (Florida)
Keith Tkachuk (St. Louis Blues)
Mathieu Schneider (Atlanta)
Andy McDonald (St. Louis)
Nik Antropov (Toronto)
Doug Weight (New York Islanders)
Bill Guerin (New York Islanders)
Gaborik (Minnesota)
Maxim Afinogenov (Buffalo)
Sean O’Donnell (Los Angeles)

Another great quote: “Citing declining sales, the CBC has pulled out as a carrier of Toronto Blue Jays telecasts.” William Houston, Globe and Mail. There is no surprise that the CBC balked at a rate of $150k per game to broadcast the Jays games. “Beeston said 145 of the Jays’ 162 games will be televised, 125 on Sportsnet, which is owned by Jays proprietor Rogers Communications, and 20 on TSN.” By the way, did anyone else here this gem from Mr. Beeston while on with Pad Thai (Watters) and Brady ” I am almost finished writing up the job description for Blue Jays President.” Please, someone tell me just how long that should take and what Mr. Beeston (whom I am a huge fan of) has been doing since he took the job???? I guess with the rate of signings and trades he realizes there is no rush to do…..ummmmmm, anything

A subject that drives Howard Berger nuts seems to have been resolved in the media’s favor in Montreal:

“Growing weary of widespread rumours and gossip surrounding injured players, Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau on Wednesday said anyone sidelined indefinitely will now have the nature of their injuries released to the media. No longer will the team report such players have upper- or lower-body injuries.Carbonneau said the decision was reached following a meeting between himself, general manager Bob Gainey, vice-president (hockey operations) Julien BriseBois and the team’s communications department.”

I have heard the arguments from both sides. The anti-reveal argument is if you reveal a player’s injury the opposing teams will attack that injury every chance they can. The pro-reveal argument is simply, we have a job to do and you shouldn’t hide information from us. If the former is true then the injuries shouldn’t be revealed, the hell with the latter.

Tonight’s shows on both stations were the worst I have heard since I have been pre-viewing/reviewing the drive home radio shows on both the Fan and 640, The interview with Steve Nash was pretty dull and almost unlistenable seeing how Nash sounded like he was in an aquarium for it. Kudos to Mccown and Kelley for interviewing an athlete (they rarely do) and for admitting that they taped it earlier (not that it would have made a difference to any of us listening), which they also rarely do. Those who preceded Nash and followed were equally as uninteresting. Over on 640 the lineup with the exception of Dean Lombardi was really dull. Perhaps it was the cold weather, but it seemed to be a night when both stations should have punted. Here’s hoping tomorrow is better.

You know the old saying about a sucker being born every second…
“Sources say the team is expected to be sold within the next two months with current owner Jerry Moyes retaining as much as 20 percent.” That according to Darren Dreger, speaking on the issue of the Phoenix Coyotes. With all the issues facing this team, most importantly a 30 year lease with brutal terms (no parking revenue for the team AND a share of each ticket sold being shared with the city) it’s hard to phathom who would buy the team. That is not to suggest that the team isn’t valuable. Truth is many would leaf fans would gladly change rosters wth the Yotes in a heartbeat… Why someone would buy this team is beyond me…especially right now…

Hats off to Jay Triano for finding Andrea Bargnani’s game. Man, anyone else see him put up 31 tonight in another loosing effort?? Quite an impressive showing for the Big Euro.

If you are a hockey fan, you had to watch, with a smile on your face the play as the Caps defeated the Pens 6-3 tonight. Way to go AO and my adopted 2nd team the Washington Capitals!

Have a good night all

Article Of The Day…. A Little Late

I had to take the little TSM’s to school this am and with work and of course the weather I got bogged down. I didn’t see this article until just now when I sat down to read the Post. This whole Maple Leaf thing is really not that complicated. It seems that the Toronto Media (print especially) is LOST (sorry, I am so psyched for next week’s premiere). The season is playing out (results wise) as many of us had hoped. The team is playing well and losing lots. With the exception of a few games the effort has not been the problem, it has been the lack of talent. Unlike in years past when the talent appeared to be there but the attitude and effort weren’t. So, why, after everyone, and I mean everyone called for the blowing up of the team, is the concept so hard to grasp. The same guru’s who said it wasn’t going to be easy, who said it was going to be ugly, are now crying because it is painful. As I have said all along. The fans have no problem buying in. We have sucked for so long, what’s another season or 3. At least this time we are being told the truth! To quote PPP, we don’t boo the losing, we boo the lack of effort. Really, it’s just not that hard.

One guy who finally seems to be getting it is Bruce Arthur at the National Post. So while Gary Lowen is off….ummmm, well I am not sure what he is doing, maybe watching old re-runs of the Golden Girls or something,Bruce is paying attention:

“So you move into a new house, and it needs some work. The previous occupants had pretty much trashed the place – scraped up the floors, disconnected the plumbing, sunk the foundations, blew off the roof. It’s all painted blue and white, and it’s a mess. To be fair, there are some saleable items left. A Kaberle-brand dishwasher, an Antropov barbecue, a Kubina TV, a Ponikarovsky rug. But they’re only really useful if you can sell them off to pay for the real reconstruction, and that’s what you would like to do.”

Wow, now that is actually worth chuckling over- better then that moronic Gilligan’s Island cast story…..

“Because they are part of this franchise fixer-upper, the media only half-heartedly grills various Toronto Maple Leafs players about the spate of slow starts, or quizzes Nik Antropov about his 10-game goalless streak, or corners Tomas Kaberle in the locker room. It all feels like we’re killing time, on temporary duty, waiting to be reassigned to a different team entirely.”

WAIT a minute. the media only what?? Sorry Bruce, perhaps you haven’t been paying attention to this group. This “grilling” is as good as it gets! You weren’t expecting in-depth analysis where you? The hardest question asked by a beat reporter last year was are you going to waive your no trade clause? That is no joke…

“If there’s a temporary feeling, there’s a reason,” Leafs general manager Brian Burke says over the phone from Boston, on his way to the Providence-Boston College hockey game last night. “A team with our number of points, with our record, it should feel temporary.”

It is, what it is…It is what we were told it would be……

“It’s guys throwing anchors at people,” Burke says. “And they’re not even embarrassed. People figure if you’re struggling, you’re desperate. And we’re struggling. It’s not even offensive to me.”

This suggests two things to me. The current cap system is going to change so that the logjam blocking the transaction section of my newspapers will once again flow properly. Secondly, NHL GM’s should be seeing a ton more of junior’s and pro players then they used to be. There is no real reason to stay home. I mean cellphones keep you in touch anyway, but if there is no chance of a deal now, may as well be on the road looking at players, right?

“Struggling team or not, Burke is less than two months into a five-year contract, so he is not desperate. So he waits. He has truly taken inventory, now. He would like to replace some of the draft picks that were missing when he arrived, and he needs young players. It may not be in Burke’s DNA to lose games, but it is in his interest. “It’s not just a DNA question,” Burke says. “This is the tightrope you walk as the general manager of a team that’s struggling. There’s a difference between tanking and putting a young lineup on the ice that’s going to have some trouble. I think people can accept [the latter] and support that.”

It’s like the old SCTV skits, 3D house or horrors- where John Candy would move an object in and out of the camera… How does someone who is “trained” to win, resist the urge to do all he can to win. Burke isn’t used to standing by and watching his team’s season going down the pike. That, is for guys like Bryan Murray (sorry, couldn’t help myself). Burke knows what we have suffered through here and knows what has to be done. Anyone who suggests a quick fix solution to make the playoffs this year is a moron.

“Every Toronto Maple Leafs game is by definition a big game to somebody out there, but right now, what’s the point in getting exercised over stuff like scoring slumps or the penalty kill? The floors may be scratched up, but they’re going to be replaced.That – and the four-year contract – may be why coach Ron Wilson doesn’t have to sugarcoat his public assessments of his team. Yesterday alone he uttered the following sentences: 1. “We are what we are.” 2. “We know what we are as a team. We’re not a team that’s built [to], or that should be, scoring five or six goals a night, plain and simple.” 3. “I personally think we’re not surprising anybody any more, and that’s the realistic version of it.” 4. “It’s a rebuilding year, period.”

That’s right. Lay the foundation this year. It’s too cold to build yet. Pour the foundation, set the tone, start to change bad habits. Eradicate the pests and vermin. Then as winter starts to thaw in say 50 days (god shoot me if it stays cold that long) we can start the building…

“Burke says he loves some things about this team: The work ethic, the way they don’t get discouraged when they fall behind, their general adherence to the structure Wilson has put in place. Add talent, and they might have something. “I think people in Toronto have witnessed since 1967 that anything but a long-term approach is doomed,” Burke says. “I think people get it.” And so we wait. It’s probably for the best.”

It is definitely for the best. Even if we don’t win the cup as a result. There are no harm in doing what we are doing. It won’t be worse then what we had, that is for sure.

You can read Arthur here


What Would You Do????

OK Leaf fans, for some reason we are being inundated with stories that Vincent Lecavalier may be available. I would love to hear Glen Healy on the Bolts trading a guy who has signed an extension with a no trade clause that doesn’t kick in until after the season before the season ends. So, you, Leaf Fan are Brian Burke. Your team is devoid of a superstar forward:

1. Would you make a play to get him
2. If so, who would you offer up (jason blake submissions will be deleted)

Remember Leaf Fans, a few short years ago Vinny was ours. All that stopped the deal was the president of the Bolts not joining the league call to confirm it. In that deal the buds were sending Tomas Kaberle, wingers Nik Antropov and Jonas Hoglund and either Brad Boyesor a first-round draft pick in 2002. We still have the first two guys 🙂


The Maple Leaf Crystal Ball

Mike Ulmer, writing on the Leafs website does a nice job predicting what the Buds may look like at the start of the 2011 season. Here are a couple of highlights:

“Going into tonight’s contest against the Montreal Canadiens, the Maple Leafs are 16-18-6, 10 points out of the basement, 25 points away from first.”

Always good to have some perspective don’t you think?

“The Leafs desperately need to get younger. To that end, I have limited the top two lines and top two defensive pairings to players 25 years or younger on opening night. Keep in mind, there will always be room for productive older players. Nik Hagman will be nearly 32, but it’s hard to think his game would not be welcome somewhere on the roster. ”

God I hope he is right about the age thing….

“On defence: Luke Schenn. He’s a sure bet. A little below Schenn, put Jeff Finger in the depth chart. Anton Stralman has the talent to be a top four defenceman but it’s impossible to accurately predict whether he will make the jump. I like Jonas Frogren’s mean for the third pairing and based on his ever improving play, Ian White might be considered in the mix. ”

So we are 1/4 right now. I love that Finger is still here if to only shut up a lot pundits.

“At forward: Well, Mikhail Grabovsky is the one sure bet. Nikolai Kulemin is in the minors right now, but he remains a good prospect for second or third-line status. Veteran Nik Antropov would be welcome, but he was a free agent back in 2009 and who knows where he is in 2010.

Ummm I think he is putting that at 1/4 (maybe 2 if you count Nikolai), which is 1 more then anyone would have said at the beginning of the season. No one expected to Grabovsky to be as good or at least to look like he has the upside that he has shown thus far.

In net, Ulmer correctly has a question mark.

“Realistically, the Leafs need nine players who can play on the top two lines and three more defencemen who can man the first two pairings.”

That is going to be a tall order. These players, according to Ulmer have to be under 25. Finding that many players under 25 isn’t going to be easy. I hope the pundits remember this as they grade Mr. Burke. Think about it. You don’t draft players in their young 20’s. Schenn is the exception, not the rule. I am sure the good folks over at PPP can tell us the percentage of players drafted in the first or second round play meaningful games in there first 2 years. I am willing to be it isn’t that high.

“That means the Leafs must depend on a steady flow of players from the development end, the Marlies. They must gamble draft choices for ready for prime time players (hard to find someone who begrudges the second-rounder Cliff Fletcher gave up to land Grabovsky) or trade.”

All this means that Mr. Burke is going to be very busy between now and the start of next season.

You can read Ulmer here


Burke Talking Turkey With Blue Jackets?

Sounds like things are heating up on the trade front. Rumors are abound with Richie Rich’s former team the Blue Jackets. One of their better beat writers post the following today:

“Toronto: As we’ve stated here previously, the Leafs have two offensive defenseman they’re looking to move — Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina. Of the two, I think the Blue Jackets like Kaberle’s contract and game better than Kubina’s, but they like the fact that Kubina is a right-hand shot. The Leafs would also consider trading center Nik Antropov, who is 6 foot 6, 230 pounds. I can see Ken Hitchcock smiling already. Antropov has blossomed as a decent secondary-scoring type of center. He has already immersed himself in North American culture. He’s a Canadian citizen, if memory serves.

Leafs GM Brian Burke wants to make a move. I mean, he’s been on the job a month already, right? Burke is willing to move players for picks, which makes the Jackets an obvious choice. Burke would have to get Kaberle to waive his no-trade clause. Last year, he wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a trade to Philly. The Flyers had agreed to an offer of Jeff Carter and No. 1 pick for Kaberle. (The Flyers should sent Kaberle a Mercedes for saving them that horrible trade, eh?)

I spoke to a person tonight who covers the Leafs, an old friend and really good guy with tons of Toronto sources. He threw lines in the water and said Antropov makes sense. He has heard, however, that the Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs keep going back and forth, that “the Blue Jackets don’t want to give up anything.”

OK sports fans, let the speculation begin, besides draft picks, which prospects on the CBJ do we want and for whom?

You can read the rest of the article here…. and which Toronto person do you think he is referring to? I say it’s Richie Rich himself!


Gagne out in Philly Cue the Antropov Rumors

Gagne was driven hard into the boards by defenseman Kevin Bieksa and didn’t return after being diagnosed with an undisclosed upper body injury. Gagne, second to Carter on the Flyers with 40 points, left the ice favoring his left shoulder. He was limited to just 25 games last season due to a concussion

Antropov for?????